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Early stages of esophageal cancer lack a specific symptom, a reliable biomarker and accurate non-invasive diagnostic modalities prompting the pressing need for identification of a marker for early diagnosis of this disease.
In the present study we investigated the levels of circulating and tissue mRNAs of Oct-3/4, Sox-2, Nanog and Bmi-1 in esophageal cancer patients using Reverse-Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) with the aim of evaluating their potential as minimally invasive diagnostic markers.
Increased transcript levels of Oct-4, Sox-2, Bmi-1 and Nanog were detected in (92%), (95%), (75%) and (67%) of the esophageal cancer tissues, respectively as compared with the matched distant normals.
Interestingly, most of the preneoplastic tissues exhibited increased transcript levels of these stemness markers suggesting their role in early stages of esophageal tumorigenesis. Furthermore, the detection of elevated levels of circulating mRNAs of Oct-4 and Nanog in sera of esophageal cancer patients emphasizes their potential as minimally invasive diagnostic markers for esophageal cancer.